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L.E. Brown / October 14, 2015

A Hospital Tale

It’s common to blame problems in the health care industry on the Affordable Care Act, but one should realize that not even a strong federal government can go forward fast enough to completely bureaucratize, bedim and befuddle a program in such a short period of time.

Thus many of the events described below — some first-hand, some based on hearsay and some completely made up — could have occurred before Obamacare went into effect.

Before the “ACT,” health care provider leaders had already moved the industry along the path of progressive thinking whose mantra is bigger is better.

It requires deep, cultivated humor to understand the sagacity of this movement.

Let’s say you are in your early seventies and have survived the two days you spent at the small hospital to which you were first admitted, then transferred from there to a large corporate hospital, where you would spend a dozen days.

You thought you were admitted to the small hospital complaining of extreme weakness and increased difficulty walking. But soon after arrival at the new hospital a health provider be-bops in and, flipping through papers on a clipboard, cheerily says: “I see you were admitted complaining of chest pains and shortness of breath.”

You start to protest before you were silenced by a whisper from a friend warning you that if you didn’t go along you could be shipped back to the small hospital, or worse, to a veterans hospital, where the kill-to-survival ratios are rather high.

Thus you emitted a strong laugh, the first of many required at the big hospital, brought on by caring human and machine health care providers.

(With no exceptions, human providers are always cheerful, gay even. You can easily imagine one popping into your room and announcing, with a broad smile, “I see here that you are dead.”)

You couldn’t help but chuckle when you were pushed across the hospital and up and down several floors and left outside a diagnostic room. You made it through the test, despite a botched IV insertion by a fast-food employee, brought in as a temporary provider.

You laughed uproariously about that, and even chuckled, though weakly, when you were pushed outside the diagnostic center and left there until the next day.

You don’t remember if it was a woman or a man who popped into your room, flipped papers on a clipboard and cooed, “Hmmm … I see here that you have COPD.”

That surprises you, for your lung specialist had said that your lungs look pretty good. You ask to see your pulmonary person, who enters your room, looks furtively around as if afraid of being overheard, but says: “I can tell you very certainly that you don’t have COPD.” He (or she) scurries out.

But you soon see evidence that your caregivers still think you have COPD. Your heart surgeon nods in assent and then adds, you think in an icy, hateful tone: “You are a smoker.”

Being a good patient, though a scared one, you laugh.

An attractive female health care specialist tells you that you must begin insulin injections for your diabetes, followed 20 minutes later by an equally attractive male specialist who advises that you can continue safely with the pill.

One non-English-speaking employee shaves you in the groin area without using shaving cream; another writes on a report that your sugar level is 450, even though having been unable to get a sample of blood from your finger.

But both providers were funny.

The day before you escape to go home you learned that during your stay your meals had been prepared as though you were not diabetic. You had sometimes wondered why you were brought cake, ice cream and, best of all, all the banana pudding you could eat.

Now, that mistake was not only funny, it was appreciated.

But not quite as funny as when you were invaded for a prostate examination by another grinning health care provider, even though you consider yourself a female.

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